I’m willing to bet you’re just like me and never heard of this near “forgotten ’til now” 80s gem from Japan: The Legend of The Stardust Brothers! This incredible movie from 1985 is most definitely one of the most unique oddities I’ve stumbled upon in quite sometime. An incredibly ambitious musical gem, packed with practical effects and eighties fashion that will likely knock your neon socks right off!
It tells the tale of two struggling rival musicians: one a rowdy punk rocker and the other an egotistical wanna be popstar who meet a mysterious man while sharing the same bill at a seedy night club. He offers them the contract of a lifetime, claiming that within one week, if they follow all the rules, the two of them will be rocketed to full blown pop super stardom. That is as long as they join forces, from that point on become The Stardust Brothers and tell the world they are indeed real bonafide brothers.
Now admittedly I’m not a real big fan of musicals, there’s only a few that I really love (Popeye, The Wizard of Oz & Little Shop of Horrors immediately come to mind). However this one has now EASILY made the list as a must watch and it’s something I’ll be watching over and over again. Essentially it’s the wildly unpredictable story of the bizarre rise and fall of this pop duo. It’s firmly glued together with a series of incredible little musical vignettes that are a visual and sonic feast.
A sweet mixture of punk rock, powerpop & some cool new wave numbers, connecting a series of incredibly ambitious music videos within one insane narrative. There are touches of the supernatural as well as a ton of amazing special effects, stop motion & practical monster effects that really impress, especially if your a fan of the 80s. It’s also filled to the brim with some of the best Japanese fashion of the era to go along with the catchy songs. As I write this, their theme song is still stuck firmly in my brain. I’d love to get my hands on some vinyl of the soundtrack. Aside from the cool music, luckily it’s got a pretty unique story that blends elements of scifi, horror and even a bit of romance. It’s unexpected twists and turns deliver a frenetic, action packed finale that will leave you pondering the events of the entire film. Its all done with a heroic dose of heart too.
Just how far do you really go to live the life of a superstar without any of the hard work required to get to the top? The Stardust Bros go the distance and the musical journey is definitely a wacky one worth taking. Apparently director Makoto Tezuka tried to catch lightning in a bottle a few years ago by producing a direct sequel, but after doing a little poking around it doesn’t seem like he was quite to able to recreate the neon electromagnetic magic of the first.
In the meantime I highly recommend picking this one up on a newly released blu ray from SRS Cinema. The Legend of the Stardust Brothers is packed with pure charisma, tons of vibrant youthful energy and shows you exactly how inventive some directors in the 1980s were in Japan with a limited budget! Don’t sleep on this one!
1988’s ‘Magic of the Universe’ (Originally released as ‘Salamamgkero’ in 1986) is one HELL of a bizarre horror adventure! Shot in the Philippines and chock full of dark creepy tropical locations, you surely get a lot more than you bargained for with an odd film that clearly must have had a pretty decent budget to work with. The plot itself is pretty sweet & simple, a talented circus magician named Jamir while doing his seemingly routine disappearing act to an eager crowd, accidentally makes his assistant/daughter disappear not only into thin air but from our reality entirely.
Perplexed, Jamir decides to search for answers, heads off in search of a creepy, mysterious shaman whom he’s heard rumor of residing deep in a nearby forest. The Shaman mixes him up a concoction of some sort from the severed head of a monkey (some serious ‘Temple of Doom’ tones here) and then ventures into a danger filled alternate dimension, to try and rescue his lover & kid sidekick who also go missing shortly after his daughter does. I’m guessing the monkey brain drink (some sort of DMT type concentration) opened some sort of portal, enabling Jamir to cross over. Once on the “other side” he discovers his loved one are captives of a powerful witch named “Mikula” who’s got a huge, sweaty pulsating head and commands a grotesque army of freakish animal people minions, swamp monsters and a plethora of gooey, gross things that go bump in the night.
The whole romp is a giant, cheezy ass fever dream, full of fog, colorful yet dark sets draped in blue & pink lighting and of course some unsettling puppet creatures. One in particular is “Globo”, a weird ass gremlin type puppet with a tv screen for a stomach. Globo’s even featured in the opening credits as “himself” as they decided to show every actor in their role, with their characters names in the opening credits of the movie, something you’d expect normally at the very end. There’s so much weird shit going on here once Jamir heads off into the alternate dimension that whatever story it’s supposedly trying to tell becomes utterly lost, making the whole thing seem even more dreamlike with every minute that passes. There’s even a weird ass party / dance scene with a full band that curiously resembles GWAR in all their monster glory. I guess I’d say this flick also brings to mind a more demented & confusing version of ‘Labyrinth’ and I mean that in the best way possible. Also at a lean running time of 84 minutes the pace rarely lags, there’s easily enough eye candy to go around here to keep horror fans guessing what oddities will present themselves next onscreen. It’s main villain, (the witch Mikula) is pretty damn entertaining too, I never got tired at looking at her fleshy bulbous head bubbling and come the end of the movie you get some great gooey, 80’s style neon action in the final battle.
If you’re a fan of weird ass cinema ‘Magic of the Universe’ definitely won’t disappoint, it’s tropical, humid nightmarish sets are worth the price of admission alone. Director Tata Esteban is fully ambitious here with his grand horror fantasy vision, perhaps not the most easy to comprehend but hey, this is a perfect movie to check out with a few too many drinks & a gang of trashy cinefiles on a Saturday nite! No one will need to pay too much attention to plot either! It’s available to watch on Youtube or you can also hunt down the dvd version of the movie on a horror double feature! I’m certain there’s a VHS copy of this one out there somewhere still but it’s probably a challenge to track down. I watched this one from my Netflix DVD service (yeah, I still do that! For movies like this!) Check it out if you’re feelin’ crazy..
A couple nights ago I finally got to see Chris Nolan’s “Interstellar” and it was an incredibly thought provoking science fiction flick, one I’d love to sit an analyze for hours with friends on it’s meaning and scientific relevance. Movies like this are what often times I truly love about Sci-Fi, a great mind bender. Don’t get me wrong I’m totally down for the laser battling, space adventuring of Star Wars but a part of me hopes NOT to get too much of that in my next Star Trek movie. The reboot/sequel JJ Abrams did was a downright awesome movie, filled with action, great fx, the perfect amount of nostalgia but by the time the second movie came around, trying to recreate the Khan storyline I’d somehow began to realize that JJ was better suited for Star Wars than Trek. Let’s face it the two franchises are indeed very different beasts and for a moment during Interstellar I delightfully pictured a Christopher Nolan helmed Star Trek film in my mind.
So today as I think about entering the theater to see a new Star Trek movie I hope for something a little different, something perhaps a little more challenging to the mind. I think back to some of the classic original series episodes which the crew face threats or situations that truly perplexed them all (The City on the Edge of Forever, The Changeling, Amok Time, Obsession, The Corbomite Manuever). I’m talking classic plot driven science fiction. That’s exactly where I’d love to see Kirk & Spock head of to. Sure giant aliens are rad, and who doesn’t love a good space battle with two opposing ships blasting the shit out of each other?! Well sometimes I like my Trek with a little more mind and that’s why of the directors being considered to helm the next movie I’m really hoping they give Duncan Jones(who is indeed in the running) for the job.
Yes, David Bowie’s son has already given us a couple great, more mind bending science fiction movies. ‘Moon’ being one of my favorite modern Sci Fi flicks and ‘Source Code’ being a totally solid twisting puzzle of movie. I feel Jones could really deliver us a great classic/modern space adventure with nods to The Twilight Zone which also had it’s influence in some of the best original Trek episodes. “Into Darkness” felt a little like Star Trek for people with ADD and the last thing I want to see is someone like Justin Lin (The Fast and the Furious movies) taking the reigns, who is indeed a contender. So I’m putting it out there, endorsing Duncan Jones as the perfect man for the job, heck I’d say he could even write the thing. However even if he didn’t write it knowing he was at the reigns would give me hope for a good script to be approved and to get a truly unique science fiction adventure beyond the stars with the USS Enterprise!
I am thoroughly bummed out that “Lessons Learned“, the short film by Toby Froud somehow slipped through my radar here undetected! Being a huge fan of Both Labyrinth & The Dark Crystal this film is on my must see list and Mr. Froud I find also lives right here in Portland, Oregon! Now that’s not even the most interesting part, Toby is kind of a legendary guy, his parents created the puppets and landscapes of The Dark Crystal & Labyrinth, but get this, he also starred in Labyrinth as the legendary baby that David Bowie kidnaps!!
So these days he lives in Pdx and works on puppets at Laika Studios on movies like Paranorman and the upcoming Box Trolls. Most recently however he’s completed his epic puppet short film, “Lessons Learned”, which was funded on Kickstarter. Now the film is complete and screenings are popping up. The movie looks pretty awesome & it really looks like it takes place in the same universe as The Dark Crystal!
So check out this trailer for the film which he teamed with Heather Henson (Jim Henson’s Daughter)! I think if he could follow this up with a feature length film, in the same vein it would excite legions of people all over the world. Lessons Learned will screen again as part of the Portland Film Festival in August. For those not in Portland, it has been selected as part of FilmQuest in Salt Lake in July, and will possibly play at festivals elsewhere pending acceptance.
Word on the street is that The Wolverine, the sequel to the god damn awful “X-men Origins: Wolverine” is possibly back on track after the recent depressing news that Darren Aronofsky, had left the project. Naturally I thought the worst, thinking our new director would be some hack like Michael Bay or Uwe Boll and we’d get a repeat of the last movie-more shit served up hot for us true Wolverine fans.
Well it seems someone out there still gives a damn about ol’ Wolvie as new has hit that Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie and director of the amazing sci-fi movie Moon and most recently Source Code (which I’ve yet to see). If you’ve seen his work you’ll agree that if he does indeed direct The Wolverine we’ll be getting something special from a director who actually cares about the final product. So once again, I am excited about a new Wolverine movie, so please guys don’t let me down again….
Check this interview out where we get a little bit of the scoop on Wolverine!
I am so SICK of bad remakes of movies that I grew up loving! It is though now kinda fun to see just how low they will go and what they’ll try and remake next. It seems though perhaps Hollywood is finally catching on now that most of these remakes are box office bombs! They maybe seeing that the real interest still lays within sequels to our beloved movies! We’ve already gotten a few, love em’ or hate em’ you gotta admit they were fun to wonder & wait for!
Let’s see, we’ve already gotten recent sequels to Rocky, Rambo (Great job on both Stallone!), Indiana Jones, Terminator(more or less though they should have gotten Edward Furlong or Nick Stahl in the lead) The Lost Boys (Hey I kinda liked the third one!) & Tron. We all know these movies are best served with their original directors too! Now there’s news today on a new sequel for Poltergeist with the surviving actors reprising their roles! How cool would that be?! Well it got me thinkin’…what are the top 10 movies that deserve a sequel? Well look no further this is my wish list! Continue reading